For decades now, my identity has been deeply wound up in being a writer, which leads me to dismiss other talents and interests that might crop up in the course of living my life. But I’m starting to think that being married to an artist for thirty-odd years (and yes, they have been odd sometimes) is finally rubbing off on me. I feel like I’m much more graphically inclined than I was when I was younger, and find myself looking at actual, concrete things in different ways (ironically, as my eyesight worsens with age).
This past summer, it seems two stray interests of mine caught up with me and converged in what I think is a meaningful way. I’ve always been interested in glass—glass blowing, stained glass, shaped glass. I’m intrigued by the interplay of light with color, and also by the paradox of working with glass, a brittle, even dangerous material, which—like a cat—never really does what you want it to, but somehow can be managed into breathtaking pieces of art. This past summer, when driving home from the Thomas Merton conference in New York State, I stopped in Corning, NY, to see the Tiffany Studios mosaics exhibit at the Corning Glass Museum. And I was simply blown away, at how so many tiny bits of glass could be brought together into magnificent artwork that literally just glows—it seemed almost alive to me. Not only that, but it all played into my other interests, history and religion, as well. I came home itching to try it myself.
As I type this, my fingers are still sticky with gummy all-purpose glue, after working all morning on a wooden pencil box I covered in a modern, geometric design with scraps of glass. I even pulled out my old glass-cutter and cut a few pieces to size. Yesterday, at a local town-wide yard sale, I picked up a huge box of stained glass (so huge, I couldn’t actually pick it up; my husband muscled it to the car for me), perhaps a hundred dollars’ worth of glass for only $10. Husband seemed faintly baffled by this purchase, and I think he worries this new passion of mine will replace my desire to keep writing. Not to worry. I will always write, and at this moment I’m knee deep into a new novel. But as I was working on my little box this morning, and finding the work so satisfying—if messy—I wondered if I was onto something, possibly a new career to supplement the teaching and the dribbly monthly royalties from Amazon. We’ll see. I’m pretty fickle when it comes to these kinds of whims—never with men, though, or my writing—and don’t want to assign any status or importance to it just yet. So for now, let’s not call it “art.” Still just my “hobby” at this point.